San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Brand Identity

Brand identity and naming for one of the largest wildlife conservation organizations in the world.

The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park are two of the largest zoos in the world, and home to a combined total of more than 15,000 rare and endangered animals representing more than 750 species and subspecies. Both parks are part of a non-profit conservation organization that is committed to saving species worldwide, and boasts one of the largest zoological membership associations in the world, with more than half a million members. Pentagram has created a new brand identity for the Zoo and Safari Park that captures their unique mission and history, including a new name for their parent organization, rebranded as the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA).

Pentagram worked closely with the SDZWA to develop the identity in a two-year process. The flagship Zoo, along with the Safari Park and San Diego Zoo Kids, are the most well-known components of the nonprofit organization, which was previously known as San Diego Zoo Global and encompassed at the time, the world-renowned Institute for Conservation Research, Wildlife Conservancy, a prominent botanical collection, and other programs and initiatives. The previous identity, updated in 2010, treated San Diego Zoo Global, the San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as adjacent brands, each with their own visual systems. The organization needed an identity with a cohesive brand architecture that could hold all this together and present the parks as an important part of a larger wildlife conservation effort.

With the rebranding, the organization also wanted to connect with the broadest audience possible—from the families who visit and support the Zoo and Safari Park to the scientific community who help contribute to its research. The mission of the SDZWA is saving species worldwide—a subject that can be bleak, challenging and negative—but it wanted to balance this with a new name that was inspiring and positive. The new name for the parent brand, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, conveys the breadth of the organization and suggests a force for good joined together in the fight to protect and save animals. 

The new logo brings together three animals that are important to the history of the SDZWA and represent its century-long conservation efforts. The idea for the Zoo was originally conceived in 1915 when its founder Dr. Harry Wegeforth drove past an animal menagerie abandoned after the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego and heard the roar of a lion named Rex. (The lion is now a symbol of the Zoo, commemorated in the “Rex’s Roar” statue at its entrance.) The lion is joined in the mark by a California condor, a species brought back from the brink of extinction in a signature achievement by the organization, and a white rhino, which they are saving with one of most successful managed breeding programs in the world.

The animal images play with positive and negative space, and combining them in a single circular shape evokes the interdependence of all living things on the planet. The form also nods to the history of past seals for the park. The logo is paired with typography set in GT Classic, a new font (designed by Grilli Type) with letterforms that have animalistic qualities like swooping tails and sharp spurs.

The identity extends to a system of sub-brands for the various components of the Alliance. These are further differentiated by color using a bright and modern palette with names inspired by nature. The main Alliance brand appears in “Habitat Green,” a dark forest green; other colors include “Bumblebee Yellow,” “Macaw Red” and “Elephant Gray.”

The graphic elements can be modulated across the identity for different contexts, from serious and science-focused to playful and family friendly. The strong graphic look of the logo carries through to a series of animal icons, and the use of positive-negative space hints at extinction in a series of “Saving Species Worldwide” posters featuring animal illustrations in silhouette.

New York
Michael Bierut
Project team
Katie Rominger
Martín Azambuja
Stephanie Winarto
Camila Pérez
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